The Elk Valley RCMP contacted me last week to let me know they had caught nine impaired drivers following a recent party at Coal Creek. They issued a press release in the hopes of getting the message out to the public that this was not ok. This was more than not ok.
Those nine drivers put not only themselves and any passengers in the vehicle at risk, but anyone else who happened to be on, or anywhere near, the road at the same time. These particular drivers were nailed in a road block police put up after responding to a call at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning. One can only wonder how many other people drove home from the party drunk that night before the RCMP arrived and didn’t get caught.
Forget the party for a moment. How many other drivers in the Elk Valley drove that weekend when they shouldn’t have? How many other drivers in B.C.?
According to ICBC, roughly 29 per cent of motor vehicle accidents in the province are related to impaired driving. Impairment is one of the top three contributing factors for fatal car crashes, and in an average year in B.C., 96 people die in motor vehicle accidents involving impaired driving.
Only one question comes to mind: why is this still happening? Why are people choosing to ignore the facts?
If the possibility of hurting yourself, a friend or family member also in the vehicle, or a complete stranger in another vehicle isn’t enough to deter you, maybe the financial ramifications are.
When you are found to be driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you are issued an Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP). Your vehicle will likely be impounded and can be held for up to 30 days, leaving you responsible for all towing and storage costs. Your license is suspended and you will have to pay to have it reinstated. If you caused an accident, you are in breach of your car insurance, and will be left with 100 per cent of the bill for any damages. You may be referred to the Responsible Driver Program, a mandatory course which costs $880. You may also be required to install an ignition interlock in your vehicle, at a cost of approximately $1,500 to $2,000. And finally, if you need to hire a lawyer, we all know how pricey that can be. Not to mention, many jobs require a valid drivers’ license.
So the next time you are tempted to drive home after you’ve had one too many, think about the consequences. Make the smart choice, the responsible choice and the only choice. Don’t drink and drive.